Our editors have independently selected the items featured in this article because we think they’re worth knowing about. Shop TODAY has affiliate relationships so we may get a small share of the revenue if you buy something through our links.
If you’re anything like me, the thought of giving up all your regular salon services may be frightening. Though hair treatments, airbrush tans or professional nail services might not be necessary to survival, I’m a firm believer that they can contribute to your overall well-being.
To escape from my busy day-to-day routine, I would pop into the nail salon to get a regular manicure. But a few years back, I realized that I was leaving the salon more stressed than relaxed due to the crowded spaces and inconsistent treatments.
Since I wasn’t getting the well-being boost I was expecting, I thought about bringing the salon into my home. Although my typical gel manicure would be more difficult to accomplish than painting my nails with a basic polish, I knew there were at-home gel kits on the market.
After searching the web for an affordable and reliable kit, I settled on the Sensationail Gel Polish Starter Kit. It was under $25 and had everything I needed to complete a gel manicure from start to finish, including a curing light.
When I opened the box I found two polishes — a base/top coat and my nail shade of choice — along with extra supplies like a cleanser, lint-free wipes, a buffer and a wooden manicure stick.
The biggest difference between a gel nail polish and regular nail polish is that gels need to be cured with an LED light. In the salon, these commercial LED lamps are bulky and expensive, but the Sensationail kit comes with a portable version of the light that gets the job done.
The instructions are easy to follow and outline how to prep, paint and cure your nails.
I start by washing my hands to ensure no oils are left on my nails and follow by pushing back my cuticles with the wooden manicure stick. Then, I shape my nails with the file included and buff them out with the soft pink side. This step is necessary because it helps the polish adhere to the nails, minimizing the chance of chips.
With regular polish, I typically do all 10 nails at once, but Sensationail recommends only working on a few fingers at a time. I choose to prep, polish and cure four nails on one hand, then move to four nails on my other hand and finish by doing my thumbs.
As noted by some buyers, the painting portion takes some time to get used to."It takes a little practice but if you do it as directed, it looks great and lasts a long time," said one verified buyer.
The instructions say to avoid getting the polish on your cuticles, which isn't easy the first couple times, but I found that was eventually able to paint them with ease by working slowly.
At the very end — after prep, painting and curing — each nail gets wiped with the cleanser to reveal a shiny finish.
According to the brand, you can get approximately 10 gel manicures from the starter kit. After the products run out, you can buy single Sensationail gel polishes to replenish your at-home manicure kit.
One of the highlights of the process is that it takes a fraction of the time that a salon manicure would take and that it doesn't cause a mess.
"I was a little nervous getting this because it was so cheap, but I am extremely impressed. It is so easy to do and way faster than painting my nails like normal because the lamp cures each coat so fast," said another buyer.
Though I've experienced the occasional chips, the color typically lasts for around two weeks. I wash my hands constantly, but even when I treat my nails poorly, the polish seems to hold up.
One buyer agrees and enjoys saving money on salon services. "I've done two manicures myself with it so far, and my sister and friend have used it too. For everyone, the manicure lasted the full two weeks and looked great. I love that I don't have to pay for a gel manicure anymore!"
Like any hard-to-remove gel manicure, this one will likely damage your nails if you don't remove the polish correctly. I'm notorious for picking off the color, but the brand recommends buffing the shine off your nails, securing acetone-soaked cotton balls to them with aluminum foil and flaking off the polish with a manicure tool.
To say I won't visit a salon again would be a lie, but with the amount of money and time I've saved with the Sensationail Gel Polish Starter Kit, I'll continue to use it as a way to keep up with my regular manicures.
For more stories like this, check out:
- How to keep your hands clean and moisturized according to a dermatologist.
- The 8 best spring nail polish colors of 2020
- Bring the spa to your home with these Bobbie Thomas-approved beauty products
Shop TODAY takes care to recommend our favorite items chosen by trusted experts and editors, as well as inform our readers of great deals, customer favorites, and newsworthy products from around the web. For more on our process, click here.